Mouse Ear

Other names:  Hawkweed

Scientific name: Pilosella officinarum

Common names:  chickweed                                        

Ayurvedic names:

Chinese names:

Bangladesh names:

Arabic names:    جرجير  (jarjeer)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Compositae

Approximate number of species known: 

Common parts used: Leaf, flower


Annual/Perennial: short-lived Perennial plant

Height:  4-5 inches

Actions:  The juice taken in wine, or the decoction drunk, cures the jaundice, though of long continuance, to drink thereof morning and evening, and abstain from other drink two or three hours after. It is a special remedy for the stone and the tormenting pains thereof; and griping pains in the bowels. The decoction with Succory and Centaury is very effectual in dropsy and the diseases of the spleen. It stayeth fluxes of blood at the mouth or nose, and inward bleeding also, for it is a singular wound herb for wounds both inward and outward…. There is a syrup made of the juice and sugar by the apothecaries of Italy, which is highly esteemed and given to those that have a cough, and in phthisis, and for ruptures and burstings. The green herb bruised and bound to any cut or wound doth quickly close the lips thereof, and the decoction or powder of the dried herb wonderfully stays spreading and fretting cankers in the mouth and other parts. The distilled water of the plant is applicable for the diseases aforesaid and apply tents of cloths wet therein.’

Known Constituents: Coumarin umbelliferone

Constituents Explained:


The herb is named after the leaves shape.  

Traditional Use:   Mouse ear combines the properties of an astringent, cholagogue and diuretic, as do several related plants. It is used to fight diarrhea, and as a gargle for sore throats. The powdered herb is sometimes sniffed into the nose to stop a nosebleed.  As a cholagogue, mouse ear is applied in liver and spleen ailments. Likewise it is used to treat bladder stones and infections. Mouse ear is used in Britain and Europe as an antispasmodic, expectorant and anticatarrhal in the treatment of bronchial problems. These actions can be accounted for by an inspection of the major components. 

Used to relieve mucous in the body, and the respiratory system.

Externally used to speed up wound and bone injuries.

Clinical Studies:   

The Pharmacology of Mouse Ear  Mouse ear contains umbelliferone, a coumarin-like antibiotic compound, essential oils, tannin, and flavones, including luteolin and its 7-glucoside, plus caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid. The astringent, antibiotic, diuretic and cholagogue properties utilized in American herbal medicine depend on the presence of the tannin, flavones and essential oils, plus cholagogyue components as yet not identified.  The uses of mouse ear in British folklore differ substantially from those of the Americans. The British make use primary use of the coumarins and flavonoids of the herb to treat respiratory problems. 

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recognizes mouse ear as spasmolytic, expectorant, anti-catarrhal, diuretic, sialogogue, and a topical vulnerary, for use in the treatment of bronchitis, bronchitic asthma, whooping cough, hemoptysis and edema, with the specific indications of whooping cough, pulmonary affections with excessive sputum, soreness and hemoptysis. Topically applied as a lotion or compress to treat hernias and fractures. Continental Europeans utilized mouse ear much as the British do, making use of the flavones and coumarins in the plant.  The luteolin and related constituents of mouse ear have been found to possess significant anti-inflammatory activity.   

Drug Interactions & Precautions  Known Interactions Mouse ear, insofar as its diuretic action increases the renal excretion of sodium and chloride, may potentiate the hyperglycemic and hyperuremic effects of glucose elevating agents.  Diuretics may potentiate the action of antihypertensive, ganglionic or peripheral adrenergic blocking drugs, tubocurarine and norepinephrine. The effects of dopamine and diuretic agents are additive. Diuretics may potentiate the action of antihypertensive drugs, ganglionic or peripheral adrenergic blocking drugs, tubocurarine and norepinephrine.  Possible Interactions The anti-inflammatory activity of this herb can be seriously inhibited by phenobarbital and certain other sedatives and hypnotics (chloral hydrate, meprobamate, etc.), as well as beta-adrenergic blocking agents (propanolol). Colchicine may increase sensitivity or enhance the response to mouse ear. In conjunction with ACTH or corticosteroids, this diuretic is more prone to produce hypokalemia.  The use of diuretics may require dosage adjustments of antidiabetic drugs. The diuretic action of mouse ear may reduce renal clearance of lithium. An initial dose of captopril (an antihypertensive) may cause a severe drop in blood pressure within three hours if the person is also using a strong diuretic. The topical application of this astringent herb in conjunction with the acne product tretinoin (retinoic acid, vitamin a acid) may adversely affect the skin. 1. The tannin in this herb may potentiate the antibiotic activity of echinacea.   2. The tannin in a tea made from this herb may be inactivated by the addition of milk or cream. The antacid nature of this herb may decrease or delay the absorption of nalidixic acid and the sulfonamides. Due to the spasmolytic nature of this herb it may interact in unknown ways with CNS depressants or stimulants. Comments Prolonged use of this diuretic may affect certain lab test results such as electrolytes (esp. K and na), bun, uric acid, glucose, and pbi. Strong diuretics such as this in conjunction with indomethacin may produce natriuretic effects.  There is evidence that combining bactericidal and bacteriostatic agents will lower the effectiveness of the ‘-static’ variety. How this finding applies to herbal antibiotics is not known.